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More funding for research at NDUS?

University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott is still hoping a portion of the earnings from the state’s Legacy Fund can be set aside for research.

That proposal was first floated in the 2019 Legislative Session.

"If there ever was an argument for the need to diversify our wonderful North Dakota workforce, highly intelligent and adaptabe, into new fields, advanced technology and whatnot, I would say the evidence is even more compelling," Hagerott said.

Hagerott saids he’s keenly aware that this comes at a time when downturns in the oil and agriculture economies, due to outside forces such as the pandemic, could mean more belt-tightening at the state level. But he said this is a great time to look at economic diversification.

"How we diverify the economy is new inventions," Hagerott said. "We're not going to discover a diamond mine in North Dakota. We have to diversify into new areas, and research is crucial."

Hagerott said in the US, there is becoming an over-concentration of research and development into big cities and big universities.

"Quite frankly, they have a strategy of poaching the talent from the Midwest rural areas, including our own University System," Hagerott said. "If we don't continue to invest in research, we're really becoming what is called the 'candy jar' for the big universities."

State Board of Higher Education member Casey Ryan chairs the Board’s Research Committee. He said he knows there are a lot of proposals for use of that Legacy Fund money – but he believes now is a great time to look at spending on research.

"I'm very optimistic we can develop a good program," Ryan said. "This isn't just going to happen over one to two years -- it needs to develop over 5 to 10 years."

Hagerott and Ryan said the two “research universities” – UND and NDSU – will be leading the effort, but it will involve all of the University System institutions.

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